Calls for Comprehensive Immigration Reform

June 18, 2009

Across the nation there is an outcry for comprehensive immigration reform. The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops called today on President Barack Obama and congressional leaders of both parties to work together to enact comprehensive immigration reform before the end of this year.

Cardinal Francis George of Chicago said:
On behalf of the United States Catholic Bishops, gathered in San Antonio, Texas, at our annual spring meeting, I would ask President Barack Obama and congressional leaders of both parties to work together to fashion and enact comprehensive immigration reform legislation before the end of the year.

It has been clear for years that the United States immigration system requires repair and that reform legislation should not be delayed.

We urge respect and observance of all just laws, and we do not approve or encourage the illegal entry of anyone into our country. From a humanitarian perspective, however, our fellow human beings, who migrate to support their families, continue to suffer at the hands of immigration policies that separate them from family members and drive them into remote parts of the American desert, sometimes to their deaths. This suffering should not continue.

Now is the time to address this pressing humanitarian issue which affects so many lives and undermines basic human dignity. Our society should no longer tolerate a status quo that perpetuates a permanent underclass of persons and benefits from their labor without offering them legal protections. As a moral matter, we must resolve the legal status of those who are here without proper documentation so that they can fully contribute their talents to our nation’s economic, social and spiritual well being.

Only through comprehensive reform can we restore the rule of law to our nation’s immigration system.

We urge President Obama and congressional leaders to meet as soon as possible to discuss and draft comprehensive immigration reform legislation, with the goal of making it law by the end of 2009. The Catholic bishops of our country stand ready to assist in this effort.
A meeting with President Obama and congressional leaders was scheduled for June 8, 2009 and then postponed until yesterday. That meeting was also postponed causing frustration among activists and those pushing for reform. The New York Daily News reported:
This week Obama postponed - for the second time - a highly anticipated meeting with congressional leaders that was supposed to start the immigration reform ball rolling once and for all.
First scheduled for June 8, the bipartisan meeting was moved to Wednesday because of "scheduling conflicts." But once again it was canceled, and this time there isn't even a tentative date set.
This is not good news, and there is much disappointment and concern in immigrant communities. Although there is no lack of faith in Obama's intentions, there also is growing awareness that waiting quietly and patiently for the White House to act will not produce results.
"We have to tell the President that he made a promise, and this is the time to fulfill it," said Anna Dioguardi, director of community organizing and development at Queens Community House in Jackson Heights
Dioguardi is a young, white and enthusiastic native New Yorker who on Tuesday afternoon stood with about a dozen volunteers from a variety of community groups outside the 90th St. No. 7 train station in Corona. In very good Spanish, she urged passers-by - the majority of them Hispanic - to get involved by calling the White House and demand it act decisively to achieve comprehensive reform in 2009.
Dioguardi's group was one of eight others engaged in "subway actions" throughout the five boroughs on Tuesday. Their objective was to sign up hundreds of New Yorkers to a newly formed mobile action network that will be used to share information and unite people across the country to work toward immigration reform.
Groups such as the New York Immigration Coalition, Make the Road NY, Northern Manhattan Coalition for Immigrants Rights, Cabrini Immigrant Services, YKASEC-Empowering the Korean American Community and others that participated in the "subway actions" promised a greater effort to mobilize people to support the President and his promise to Hispanics.
"Join the movement for immigration reform in 2009" read the leaflet the activists handed out. It asked people to use their cell phones to become part of the mobile action network by text messaging the word "justice" to the number 69866. Spanish speakers can text the word "justicia."
"We need hundreds of thousands of people," said Frances Liu of the New York Immigration Coalition. "And we will get them with the mobile network." Judging by the response the volunteers received Tuesday, Liu's prediction is probably on the money.
Also today in Denver, Colorado the Denver Democrats called on Congress to enact comprehensive immigration reform that offers a path to citizenship for millions of illegal immigrants. The Denver Daily News reports:
At its monthly meeting on Tuesday, the Democratic Party of Denver said the current system is “steeped in 44-year-old assumptions dating back to legislation created in 1965 that no longer addresses contemporary realities.”
The group backed a resolution calling for a pathway to citizenship for as many as 12 million illegal immigrants, and to reunite families that have been separated as the result of work place raids, such as the one at the Swift & Co meatpacking plant in Greeley in 2006.

“Immigration reform is arguably one of the foremost Civil Rights issues we face in the United States and in Colorado today,” said Cindy Lowery, chair of the Democratic Party of Denver. “No longer can we sit idly by and insist this issue be resolved on the federal level. I am proud that the Democratic Party of Denver has passed this resolution calling for a humane, fair, and comprehensive response from our elected officials on immigration reform.”

Lowery criticized state lawmakers for failing to pass legislation that would have offered in-state college tuition to illegal immigrants. The Tuition Equity bill failed in the Senate this year, just as it has on three previous occasions.

President Barack Obama has signaled his support for immigration reform that includes a path to citizenship. Bipartisan committees have assembled to develop legislation that is expected to be brought forward by as early as the fall.
Here is the video that opened the Reform Immigration FOR America Summit held in Washington DC during the first week in June